I am a shameless planner.

I plan everything – birthday parties, calendars, ministry programs, even vacations – down to every last detail. I love planning. Seeing a completed to-do list or a beautifully filled out calendar fills my heart with joy. It’s true. 

In my time in ministry (and also just life), I have realized this is not the case for everyone. In fact, there are a lot of people who don’t like planning. This has made me realize that my love for planning is actually a gift – and one that I’ve at times been a little too exuberant in sharing. 

However, a new kids ministry year is in full swing (if you’re like me and run with the school year), and I know many ministry friends and colleagues who are working to plan their years. This planning has taken on new importance in my own ministry as I prepare to take maternity leave this winter. So, without further ado, let me share some of my best tips for planning a #kidmin year. 

Think in themes.

I try to plot out my kids’ ministry year thematically, and then fill out the calendar. I spend a day or two asking myself “What themes do I want to tackle this year? What is important for the kids I teach to learn about God this year? Is there anything we haven’t talked about in a while? Is there anything that feels urgent to teach on?”

I usually make a list of 10-12 topics and then narrow them down. All of these topics are God-focused, but some feel a little more practical while others feel a little more theological. I try to create a balance between the two. Once I’ve established my themes, I set out to look for curriculum that will serve me best here. If you use a curriculum that is yearly, most of this theme work will already be done for you. If not, I draw from different sources – including these series from Newspring Network, other low cost resources and lots of my own additions. 

Plot the themes on your calendar.

Once I’ve found the themes and curriculum I’m going with, I spend some time in prayer and planning to figure out where to place these themes. I believe God can guide us right at the outset of the year for the direction we should go in – and I’ve seen it time and time again in my kids ministry planning. The series I’ve chosen in September is a perfect fit for what is happening in our community or kids’ lives come April. 

Doing these two big tasks takes so much weekly stress off your plate. Instead of wondering each week “what’s happening on Sunday!?”, you already know where you’re going. Taking dedicated time to plan in advance gives you time during the year to focus on connecting with families, volunteers and get all the logistics of carrying out #kidmin done in a timely fashion. 

Here are a few other tips: 

  • Don’t forget about holidays and seasons: Christmas and Easter happen every year. This will not change. Don’t let them creep up on you. Start brainstorming about Christmas and Easter, effective ways to share the Gospel and do outreach in these seasons at the outset of the year. 
  • Have a great organizing system: I know some people who print out all their curriculum for the year and sort it in a binder. It is a system that works well for them. Other people use filing cabinets for each week or month. I’m more of a digital organizer – and love using Google Drive to organize my kidmin year – in seasons, themes and then weeks. Find a system that works really well for you, and own it! 
  • Plan weekly too: No matter how many times you’ve photocopied coloring sheets, picked up glue and markers, or set out a snack on Sunday, there are still times you will forget. Planning weekly helps prevent this. I created this free Sunday morning planning checklist at Deeper Kidmin that I walk through week by week. I’ve also created them in my own ministry for setup and teardown. Weekly planning helps keep me on top of things – and avert disasters like running out of Goldfish on Sunday morning more often.

I believe in planning because I think it helps me become a better steward of my time, energy and resources. I believe it gives more intentionality to my ministry, allows creativity to flow more freely, and helps me focus on what really matters – sharing the truth of the Gospel and the beauty of salvation with kids I care about.

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